The Beginning Sometimes the roughest part of anything can be the beginning and as far as I can tell here, that's been the case, which doesn't mean alot right now because it's as far as I've gotten. I've mulled and thought it over and tried to figure out where to tell you my tale began and I suppose the answer is several places.
The first is a vast sea of memory and imagination and joy called childhood. It was somewhere there between summer breezes, babydolls, and church light through stained glass windows of Southern churches that I met my God. Back then I had no questions or need for them. He was as real to me as any of my friends, resting somewhere between instinct and my heartbeat. For every need there was a prayer and for every question there was an answer, right there in the pages of the little leather Bible I got for Christmas one year, with pages that crinkled like leaves in the fall.I had no idea that Christian and believer could mean two different things or that there were people in the world that had any other concept of a God or gods that didn’t involve a cross.Then I began to grow.
The other beginning was I suppose more the beginning of my current journey, the one I will record here and invite anybody interested enough to follow.I was 25, living somewhere in between the lights and sounds and madness that make up L.A.By this point when I thought of going to church, it wasn’t immediately flashes of gold off of alters or crosses that appeared in my mind.Not even Jesus, with his sad, searching eyes, or Mary who hung out in the more Catholic slanting churchs, in paintings with her eyes cast down, usually someplace Spanish with roses.Who can blame her, I’d sometimes wonder, there are times I’d prefer not to watch either.
If by that time I let my mind revolve around the patchwork of beauty, pain, and wonder I now associated with the place it sometimes came around to beautiful angels or banners elaborate enough for the thrownroom of a king…or King.But what I generally thought of then and now when someone mentions church, is the sky.For whatever reason it always seems that when you go into or out of a church, the sky seems so so blue.Even the clouds seem to stream with a little more light and for a moment, the world seems a little more manageable.When you get lost in that sky it seems that everything, for a moment, in a shakingly frail sort of way, might somehow be okay.
It was a hot dry Sunday in the valley when I walked into a little church in Burbank.I sit in the back now usually when I go to churches, and I have gone to many.My work as an actress has taken me on journeys to stages across the country and on many of them I’d try and pick out a steeple from the skyline of wherever I found myself that could of months or nights.
Regardless due to the absence of my far away family and lack of friends who think of the church as anything more than a right-wing mouthpiece, I usually keep to the back with the potted plants, little weekly announcement bullitens, and usher who are so sure of what’s behind the doors they stand in front of to direct people through them with a smile.Perhaps it’s partially so I can feel more on the outside, looking in on something I’m desperate to understand or maybe it’s because I’m afraid that the pain will suddenly come spilling down my eyes because I was once so sure I did.
I’m never of course beyond a polite hello or a good morning how are you, and though I never delve much further than that, I always love the safety that descends on people as they walk into a church.It’s the subtle knowledge that at least for awhile, everyone here is going to try their best not to hurt you.
This particular morning there was a guy strumming a guitar, always my least favorite part of the service because all those damn praise songs all sound the same.Give me a 300 year old hymn and a choir any day over some middle aged guy in khakis with an electric guitar trying to sing hip songs because he thinks it’s attractive to the youth.Anyway, khaki guy was strumming a hymn that sounds like all the others, the words flashing behind him on this bigass screen so that everybody could sing along.And I was floating there, semi-happy, when suddenly the words changed.
“Are you here?”They asked me.I stared back apathetically.
“I mean really here?”They continued to flash across the screen.
“Or are you watching, waiting, hoping?”
I felt an uncertainty start to climb deep within my chest and climb slowly but eerily to my eyes.
“Take it to the thrown.” The message told me as the guitar continued to strum pleasantly and the members took a moment to raise their hands to their God.
I wanted to get out of there, not run screaming into the night per say, but leave one way or the other, back to my world of newly risen considerations and doubts and questions.But I was stuck there just as my anguish was stuck inmy throat.And that’s when it began to take shape for me, a thousand little pangs began to unfold as I realized that I couldn’t take it to the thrown anymore because I’d forgotten how.
Someplace along the way I’d gotten lost.Somewhere between the place where I realized that some people call God Allah or my gay friends who assure me their lifestyle has nothing to do with God.Maybe after the first sip of alcohol that didn’t ruin my life, or the “premarital” intimacy that to me was no more than an expression of love.Perhaps it lost shape after a cuss word that I believe God has more to worry about that getting mad over.But somewhere, someplace between here and 7 years old, I’d lost it.My connection with God had needed to grow and unsure where to lead it, I must have departed on another path…a path that somehow felt more real to me than the sermons I’d seen some pastors preach or the kids who got married at 19 so they wouldn’t offend God by letting some guy put his hand up their shirt.
I sank down into my pew and watched as people continued to sing “Great is they faithfulness, all that I need, they hands doth provide.”As I watched them, an anger built deep inside me, sat steadily in my stomach and then burned right behind my eyes.It was an anger the burned not for these people, but out of jealousy for them, a furious little emotion that even in the land of Hollywood does not visit me often.
I looked around for even one soul as uneasy as me and as I slowly began to realize there were none, my jealousy slowly faded into a heavier sort of blackness that carried with it an isolation that made me feel like the only person in the world who saw my former best friend as a gray area, a cloud of confusion I couldn’t approach.Slowly the tears began to rise and though I commanded them to stay they slowly slid down under the sunglasses I’d yanked over my eyes.
The Lord’s supper took me totally off guard.Almost before I knew it was happening a lady was standing next to me, holding a little plate of bread, so I took one, not knowing what else to do.Music began to play softly again and a guy took the microphone and began to talk, so gently about the fact that this was one of his favorite parts about being alive.I wanted to run to my car like an abandoned child, roar out to the desert in my Mustang and scream at the stars.
But the woman was back, this time with a tiny cup of grape juice.
“This is my blood.”
I wasn’t sure if she saw my tears or cared so I just drank the juice, shut my eyes, and tried to remember what it was like to know you were going to live forever.
I grabbed the pew with one hand and my chest with the other, coughing desperately, not sure if I was choking on my own tears or His blood.